Masks have a role to play in preventing transmission of the new Coronavirus (Covid-19), virologist Emmanuel André said on Saturday.
Earlier in the day, the Royal Academy of Medicine recommended the wearing of cloth masks by the population.
“Like other doctors, we believe anything that will prevent infection is good to use,” Andre said, “and masks have a role to play in preventing transmission, a role all the more important that physical distancing is harder to apply.”
“The role of masks is included in the general response since the beginning of this epidemic to prevent infections,” the virologist noted. “It has been emphasized above all at health care institutions where the level of exposure is very important. Generally, masks are one element among many – but cannot be the only one – for helping to protect the population and, certainly, for the purpose of gradual deconfinement, although we are not yet at that stage,” the expert said.
Discussions are now underway on how to “transform the evidence that masks protect from infection into recommendations that are applicable and useful in the long term in our society,” he added.
However, the Academy stressed that while cloth masks filter out 70% of viral particles (compared to 89% for surgical masks) their effectiveness will be less if their use is not accompanied by frequent washing of hands and social distancing.